Prologue: London, 1888
No one heard her body fall to the cold ground. Low clouds drifted on damp cobblestones. He watched glimmers of his reflection in the glare from the gas lamps in her eyes. She was lovely; auburn hair pulled up with wisps curling around her porcelain face. Tenderly, he ran his gloved fingers against that smooth skin and bent to inhale her scent. The copper aftertaste was still fresh and satisfied his hunger. He yearned to pierce her flesh once more, but the desire was futile.
Once her heart stopped and blood ceased to flow, the taste of her soured like curdled milk. Soon, her stench would permeate through the skin and draw anyone in a five-mile radius. Well, those like him at least. London drew a thin shroud over the strange shadows of the night. If he opened himself up, freed his mind of the bond that kept his presence hidden, their guise would falter.
Adrenaline from his latest kill lingered on his taste buds. Youth fueled the desire and it always tasted sweeter than the aged, although a bit gamy. The luxury of savoring his work was denied as the knowledge of the others tickled his peripheral vision. The scent of determined intent brought on a series of violent and uncomfortable sneezes. Someone followed him, lingered somewhere within the shadows of London. He looked around, but no one occupied the alley but himself and his snack.
“Well, it looks like you’ve found me,” he mused out loud. How long has it taken them to track him down?
Out of curiosity, he reached out to the thoughts of his night companion to assess skill. His senses heightened and the intense aroma sickened him. It took a great amount of will to terminate the mental link. When it faded, he felt dizzy from the effort. He was getting rusty, far too used to feeding indiscriminately without fear of recognition.
Although he knew the identity of his tracker, the knowledge came with a price. Whoever tracked him now knew his identity. It was time to move on. Soon, his victim would reveal her secrets to the authorities and to the world. Yet another to add to his dance card, a lifeless lady of the night.
It amused him to think that the human population of London had no idea that he walked among them. He was so much more powerful and dangerous than they could possible imagine. Soon, they would all fear him. The London newspapers had picked up on news that a series of unsolved and somewhat gruesome killings had been occurring in the poorer parts of the city. Of course the details had been exaggerated and altered. Slaughtering this species was similar to that of cattle. It fueled some primal curiosity to see just what they were made out of, to no longer speculate the reason behind the separation. Something about it all gave him pleasure, in their pitiful cries for help before he ripped out the throats of his helpless victims. Let them think one of their own was responsible, it was a good cover. The authorities would look in the wrong direction. Soon, the one he waited for would arrive and his plan for revenge put into motion.
For the last time, he gazed upon her angelic features. Her wet hair blanketed his shoe and he forced himself to savor the image a moment longer before melding into the shadowed alleyway. It was how he wanted to remember the delicious morsel, kneeling at his feet, feeding his hunger.